Jake: 'welcome on board, Nic'Nic Wiseman asks whether the loyalty system can be unfair in some instance and asks the club for some transparency.

I was meeting up with an old mate in the Museum Vaults before the Spurs game in September and he happened to mention that buying a ticket for the Stoke cup game would get me an extra loyalty point. I’m always keen to get extra points, so that I’ll have enough for a mags away ticket next year (the highest status in terms of loyalty points).

So I bought my Stoke ticket online, had it loaded onto my Season Card and thought no more about it. It wasn’t until I was looking at my loyalty points on the club website, that I noticed that the point for the Stoke game wasn’t included. A mistake, I thought, and called the club. The woman in the ticket office said that there was no mistake, but that I had missed the so-called ‘priority’ period. I thought no more about it, but made sure I was in time for Leeds and forgot about Fulham in the FA Cup—yes, I am an idiot!

It wasn’t until a conversation on twitter alerted me to the fact that it was unjust that all fans that bought the ticket didn’t automatically get a loyalty point added to their accounts. Why the discrepancy? What if someone can’t afford the ticket within the priority period? Why is time a factor in gaining a point on this occasion and not for all away games, when you gain a loyalty point whenever you buy the ticket?

IMG_5633Some postulated that it was the club trying to nudge season card holders into signing up to the cup direct debit scheme, in which the club automatically debits season card holders’ bank accounts for home cup games.

This brought us on to the grubby issue of fees for cup games and tickets in general. Why are we charged £1.25 to load a season card with a cup game and those who go through the turnstiles with a paper ticket or cash are not charged? Why are away tickets charged with an added surcharge of 50p per ticket?

This seems skewed in the wrong direction. Surely it is more expensive to send out a paper ticket than it is to electronically to load a ticket onto a season card?

Whatever the reason, I think some transparency is needed here.

  1. Why aren’t loyalty points awarded to every season card holder who buys home cup tickets?
  2. Why are ticket fees more expensive for home tickets loaded onto season cards than away paper tickets?
  3. Why do SC holders get charged £1.25 to attend home cup games than paper ticket or cash turnstile users?

If anyone from the club would care to address these issues, a lot of fans would be very interested.

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

4 Responses to “What price loyalty?” Subscribe

  1. malcolm February 6, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    Businesses seem to be able to get away with stuff that would be seen as fraud or theft if Joe public tried it. Witness the following from recent days.

    Manchester United warned fans that if they didn’t buy a ticket for the FA Cup replay with Cambridge United their season tickets would be suspended. The club wrote to season card holders telling them they would not be allowed entry to the Premier League home fixture against Sunderland if they didn’t buy a ticket for the Cup replay.

    It maybe in the small print but it’s surely on a par with mis-selling PPI etc.

    I can’t find it now and have forgotten which club it was but a few days ago I read somewhere that a football club was having a rethink about their policy to make season ticket holders buy over £100 worth of catering as a condition of purchase!

    I sympathise Nic – having not renewed my season ticket a couple of years back because there are generally three or four games a season I can’t get to, I don’t get much opportunity of getting tickets for away games at all, but have no problem with that. Those who go most should get first dabs in my view.

    I can’t understand though, why you get charged an admin fee for every ticket when you buy a load in one go for yourself and your mates. Mind you that happens at theatres and other such places too, even when you turn up at the box office in person now.

  2. Keith Hutton Africa February 7, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

    If you want loyalty buy a dog. We are charged over the odds for merchandice and anything that might resemble the club we love. We do not moan we are addicts we need our fix, just treat us with respect. Ashley would do well to understand this, we are not them. Je suis Sunderland, forever

  3. Keith Judd February 7, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

    I buy tickets for away matches for a group of pals and as stated get charged 50p per ticket. 10 tickets £5.00. A branch gets charged a maximum of £2.00, in some cases for a bus load. I questioned this early in the season and was told it was too late to do anything about it, or I could pay cash. That would mean carrying several hundred pounds about when buying for 2 or 3 matches at same time? Did say they would look at it for next season.

  4. Nic Wiseman February 9, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    An update on the piece. I just called the ticket office and spoke to a very nice guy called Keith. He said that all home games are charged with a £1.25 fee if you don’t buy in person. That includes paper tickets and games loaded onto season cards. This is to do with the fee they are charged by card processing companies for non using chip and PIN technology.
    The loyalty point priority period for home cup games was introduced in response to the Northampton game last season when 15,000 people turned up wanting to buy a ticket on the day of the match and there were only 20 ticket office staff on duty. Consequently some people didn’t get in until after half time.
    The 50p fee on away tickets is the club’s markup on away tickets.
    I hope that makes some sense.
    Nic Wiseman

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